Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An African Safari

I have decided that I would do a slideshow of the photos I have edited so far from South Africa. I have been having trouble with the quality of the video, so I have broken the photos up into the places we were. They are 2-3 min each, so I appreciate your patience and promise it is worth it!

My housemate, Ann, and I went to South Africa in December 2014. We started at Umlani Bushcamp in the Timbavati Reserve just outside of Kruger. We were at Umlani for 2 nights (one of which was spent sleeping in a treehouse above a watering hole where elephants walked right below us!) Umlani was a beautiful, simple camp with no electricity, simple rooms, and very welcoming staff. We went on 3 game drives with excellent guides and were fortunate to see the "big 5" within the first 24 hours of being on safari. We saw a mother leopard and her two cubs, a pride of 9 lions, white rhinos, more elephants than you can imagine and so many wonderful birds. There are so many different species that I can't even list them all here without boring you.

Here is the slide show for Umlani. The photographs are in no particular order, and eventually my favorites will make it onto my website.

Next we traveled into Kruger park where we spent 4 nights- We stuck to central and lower Kruger because that is where the biggest concentration of game is. If I was there for longer, I would have gone further north to see some of the rare bird species. Maybe next time! The first 2 nights were in central Kruger at Satara camp. We drove ourselves (well, my excellent friend Ann drove us and did a wonderful job despite having me as an obnoxious backseat driver!) in the morning along the paved and unpaved roads looking for animals. In the afternoon we took guided tours, allowing us to stay out later because the gates all close before sunset. At our camp within Satara we met the resident Vervet monkeys. They are incredibly smart and not afraid of people. They got into food, even when you thought you did a good job putting it all away. Or in my case, while shooing away one monkey, another snuck up behind me and stole my peanut butter sandwich right out of my hand!

On our afternoon drives we got to see another pride of lions (6), lots more elephants, rhinos, and really cool night species. In the slideshow below, you'll see a bushbaby. I was thrilled to get to see these small primates! They hop from tree to tree and have huge eyes.

After Satara, we spent our last 2 nights at Lower Sabie. The lower section of Kruger is commonly called the "circus" and I completely agree. There are many places we went where we didn't really see any other people or cars for long periods, but the camps in the lower Kruger section were much more chaotic and lots more kids were present. Even though it was more crowded, I still feel like I wouldn't pass it up if I repeated the trip. There are more rivers present so there are more water animals like hippos and crocks. It is currently the rainy season in Kruger. From what I read before leaving the US, the rain is commonly in the afternoon and the mornings are sunny and hot. We had the exact opposite weather. We had cool, foggy, damp mornings that stayed cloudy all day. It was really nice to have 70 degree weather instead of 100 degrees, but I was a little bummed I never got that really nice morning light to photograph in. Finally on our second to last morning, it was perfect. And we saw a cheetah mom and cubs. Everything on the trip made me really happy, but that morning I was overjoyed.

Hope you enjoyed these slide shows. Next up will be our week in Cape Town.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Back to the cloud forest

After the little vacation in the lowlands, we were back to working up in the high elevation of Manu. I was happy to be back, the heat and humidity was getting to me. But the unfortunate thing is that as we went into September, we were getting into the rainy season. The rain in Manu wasn't bad- it would usually only rain for a short time and there were really cool lightning storms.

After adding all the photos to this post, it looks like the theme is shades of red. 

Shining sunbeam (Aglaeactis cupripennis)

Shining sunbeam (Aglaeactis cupripennis)

Amethyst-throated sunangel (Heliangelus amethysticollis)

Mountain caracara (Phalcoboenus megalopterus)

Rufous-breasted chat-tyrant (Ochthoeca rufipectoralis)

Rufous-collared sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis)

Scarlet-bellied mountain tanager (Anisognathus igniventris)

Rufous-capped thornbill (Chalcostigma ruficeps)

Rufous-capped thornbill (Chalcostigma ruficeps)

Sunday, November 23, 2014


The unofficial bird of Peru is the cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus). They are a very odd species. The males meet every morning and evening to strut their stuff to the other males in what is called a lek. Because this bird has become such a staple for the tourism industry in Peru, the leks are boarded off from public view and locals let you into the 'viewing area' after paying them a fee. The morning Sean and I went to see the birds, we stayed at the camping platform where another avian research group and they informed us that the current lek (they move every few years) was located about a 45 minute walk up the road. We got up really early and walked up to the lek and arrived right before sunrise. Unfortunately there was no one there to unlock the door for us. We climbed the barbed wire fence (which had a huge drop on the other side that we had to scale to get to the platform) and had our little 15 minute show of male cock-of-the-rocks bobbing and squawking. They left before the sun actually came up over the mountain, so the photos I did get were not ideal. Even so, it was definitely an experience.

Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus)
Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus)

Back at the lodge, they are geared for big time photographers and tourists, they have several hummingbird feeders and put out fruit for the tanagers. It was a really nice day- I could have stayed at those feeders for the whole day!
Sparkling Violetear (Colibri coruscans). These guys were the most fierce protectors of the feeders, therefore the most abundant.

Sparkling Violetear (Colibri coruscans). I was playing around with my flash and different shutter speeds. This one has a little slower shutter than the one below where the wings were frozen.

Sparkling Violetear (Colibri coruscans) about to take off.

Sparkling Violetear (Colibri coruscans). No flash on this photo.

Golden-eared tanager (Tangara chrysotis)
Golden-eared tanager (Tangara chrysotis)

Golden tanagers (Tangara arthus) with a piece of fruit. I feel like this one can make a good 'caption me' contest.

Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas)

Many-spotted hummingbird (Taphrospilus hypostictus)

Many-spotted hummingbird (Taphrospilus hypostictus)
Blue-winged mountain tanager (Anisognathus somptuosus)
 As I like to do... I saved my favorite for last. This hummingbird was so small and beautiful. My favorite hummingbird I saw in Peru!
Booted racket-tail (Ocreatus underwoodii)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The last of the lowlands

Here is the last post from the lowlands of Manu. Since I didn't go in chronological order, I don't have an end of the week story for you (That was in the last post!). I will tell you that my time at Villa Carmen was really nice and it was nice to have a break, but I was really happy to be going back to the higher elevation. The lowlands are hot and humid. I prefer the drier air we got at 10,000 feet. So did my hair!
Common longwing (Heliconius erato emma)

Thyridia glasswing (Thyridia psidii ino)

I haven't found the species for this guy yet.

A beautiful dragonfly

Blue-tailed emerald (Chlorostilbon mellisugus)

Sapphire-spangled emerald (Amazilia lactea)

Leaf cutter ants

Leaf cutter ants

Leaf cutter ants

Scarlet and blue and yellow macaws

Russet-backed oropendola (Psarocolius angustifrons)

Sapphire-spangled emerald (Amazilia lactea)

Sapphire-spangled emerald (Amazilia lactea) with it's tongue out

Sapphire-spangled emerald (Amazilia lactea)

Walking stick
 For the last picture, I leave you with a woolly monkey. This guy was yelling to his comrades and the others were throwing sticks at me. Monkeys are not to be messed with, so I got on my way quickly.
Woolly monkey

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

More Manu, more color!

Ok, here it goes again! More photos from the lowlands in Peru. I have only 3 short weeks till I leave for South Africa and my goal is to get all my Peru pictures up here before I leave! I have a lot of photos to go so the posts may start to get a bit longer.

Red-barred amarynthis (Amarynthis meneria)

Black-throated nunbird (Monasa nigrifrons)

Blue-headed parrots (Pionus menstruus)

Blue-tailed emerald (Chlorostilbon mellisugus)

Bluish-fronted jacamar (Galbula cyanescens)

Another crazy caterpillar.

Scarlet and blue and yellow macaws in flight.
Yet another photo of a long-tailed tyrant (Colonia colonus), can you tell by now that I really loved these birds? 

Vermillion flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus). I like the red mohawk going on in this photo.
White-eyed parakeets (Psittacara leucophthalma)

An owl monkey came down to check us out. Also called night monkeys, these little guys are not commonly seen in the day-time.

The last three photos were taken on the last day we were at Villa Carmen. (Although this is not the last post of Villa Carmen photos- I'm not going in chronological order by any means) The last day was kinda odd. I was sitting around not really wanting to walk far and Sean came to tell me that he found an aracari (in the toucan family) and showed me where their nest was. I was really excited because I had yet to get any photos of toucans and couldn't believe that I was in Peru for well over a month and had yet to get a toucan photo! The butterfly below was also a really big treat for me because I saw these beautiful butterflies all week and only saw them flying with no chance of photographing them. Finally in the last few hours we were at Villa Carmen, one was resting on a tree and stayed there for a long enough time to get some photos!

Chestnut-eared aracari (Pteroglossus castanotis)

Red flasher (Panacea prola amazonia).

Here is a picture of the red flasher's underside. It was so beautiful!